The meaning of frozen shoulder is as simple as stiffening of shoulders resulting in lesser mobility. The condition is also called adhesive capsulitis. The condition can affect one or both shoulders. 


Some people use the term ‚Äúfrozen shoulder‚ÄĚ for arthritis but these two conditions are not the same. Arthritis can affect multiple joints while frozen shoulder only affects the shoulder joint. The condition mostly affects people of age between 40 and 60 years. It is also seen that women get affected by frozen shoulders more than men.¬†


Symptoms

Now that you know the meaning of frozen shoulder, it is time to move on to the symptoms of the condition. Frozen shoulder symptoms include persistent pain in the shoulder joint. The joint also gets stiffed and the mobility of the joint decreases. 


The frozen shoulder symptoms develop gradually but, thankfully, these symptoms get resolved on their own without any medical intervention from the doctors. In some rare cases when the symptoms get worsened over time, you might need some treatment methods like exercises and physical therapy. 


Causes

To understand frozen shoulder causes, you will first have to understand the structure of the shoulder joint. A shoulder basically consists of three major bones: the shoulder blade, the collarbone, and the upper arm bone (also called the humerus). It has a ball-and-socket joint where the head of your upper arm bone gets embedded into the socket. 


Connective tissue surrounds your shoulder joint and the synovial fluid ensures that the joint can move without any noticeable friction. The condition happens when scar tissue gets formed in the shoulder. As a result of this, the joint’s capsule gets thickened and tightened. The friction increases as there is no room for movement. When you try to move the shoulder, friction starts causing pain. 


This is what happens behind the scenes in the frozen shoulder. However, the exact frozen shoulder causes are not known. Some doctors consider that a recent injury or fracture causes a frozen shoulder. Data also show that people who have diabetes develop frozen shoulders more than others. 


Risk factors

There are some factors that increase the chances of a person developing a frozen shoulder. Here is a list of some of the risk factors of frozen shoulder: 

  • Age: If your age is over 40 years, your chances of developing a frozen shoulder increases.
  • Gender: Women tend to develop frozen shoulder conditions more than men. In fact, around 70 percent of all the people who have developed this condition are women.¬†
  • Traumas: If you have had any recent trauma, surgery, or arm fracture, your chances of getting frozen shoulder increases. Doctors think that such trauma can cause immobility during the recovery process and may lead to stiffening of the shoulder capsule.¬†
  • Diabetes: Data shows us that somewhere between 10 to 20 percent of all people who have diabetes develop frozen shoulder at some point of time in their lives. Another thing to be noted here is that people who have diabetes actually experience more severe symptoms than people who do not have diabetes.¬†


A few other conditions that can increase your chances of developing frozen shoulder are:

Stages
  • Parkinson‚Äôs disease
  • Overactive thyroid (also known as hyperthyroidism)
  • Underactive thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism)
  • Cardiovascular disease


Diagnosis

Frozen shoulder diagnosis is mostly based on the signs and symptoms that you are experiencing. After asking about the symptoms you are experiencing, the doctor will conduct a physical examination. In the physical examination, the doctors will closely check your both arms and shoulders. 


The severity of the condition is determined on the basis of a test in which the doctor moves certain parts of your shoulders and arms. Apart from physical examination, the doctors also perform imaging tests such as X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to detect structural problems. 


Frozen shoulder treatment

Frozen shoulder treatment aims at reducing the pain and increasing the flexibility and mobility of the shoulder. It is seen that 9 out of 10 patients who are treated for frozen shoulder experience relief. That being said, the recovery process might take some time. In some cases, it takes several years to get sufficient relief from the problem. 


Here is a list of some frozen shoulder treatment methods that doctors use for frozen shoulder:

  • Medications: Certain medications are prescribed in order to reduce inflammation and alleviate mild pain.
  • Hot or cold compression packs: For some patients, medications are usually not preferred by the doctors because of some other complications. In such cases, hot or cold compression packs come in handy as they can also aid in reducing pain and swelling.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): In this treatment method, the nerve ending in your spinal cord that is responsible for controlling the pain is numbed with the help of TENS machines.¬†
  • Frozen shoulder physiotherapy: The best part about this treatment method is that after a time, you can do it on your own. Frozen shoulder physiotherapy includes training in exercises that help you increase the flexibility and mobility in your shoulder.¬†
  • Shoulder manipulation: In this treatment method, the shoulder of the patient is moved gradually while the patient is given general anesthesia.¬†
  • Shoulder arthroscopy: When other treatment methods do not effectively work in providing relief, doctors choose this minimally invasive type of surgery. In shoulder arthroscopy, a small tube (also called an endoscope) is inserted into your shoulder by making a small incision near your shoulder. Then, with the help of this tube, the scar tissue or adhesions are removed.¬†
  • Exercises: In the home workout, the physiotherapist suggests doing some exercises that can prevent and even reverse the stiffness in your shoulder joint. A few examples of frozen shoulder exercises are crossover arm stretch, pendulum stretch, towel stretch, etc.¬†


Prevention

The only way a frozen shoulder can be prevented is when you have had a recent injury that is causing difficulties in the shoulder joint movement. In such a condition, you should talk to the doctor about your pain and symptoms. 

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Posted 
December 21, 2021
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